Summer lunch program to provide produce to families

This summer, The Food Bank will provide bags of fresh produce and produce vouchers to children attending Summer Food 4 Kids sites in Boone County.

The project is possible through funding from Conagra Brands Foundation’s Hunger-Free Summer Program. With a $20,000 grant, The Food Bank will allow summer feeding recipients to take fresh fruits and vegetables home after lunch. Additionally, up to two $5 vouchers will be given out to be used to purchase fresh produce at local grocery stores and additional $5 vouchers will be given weekly to be used at the Columbia Farmers’ Market.

“This is a great time of year to implement a program that increases distribution of fruits and vegetables,” says Lindsay Young Lopez, executive director of The Food Bank. “Summer months can be paradoxical. On one hand, gardens and greenhouses are overflowing with nutritious and delicious produce. On the other hand, some children no longer have access to subsidized school meals, meaning they are more at risk of food insecurity.”

Lopez is hopeful the produce program provides incentives for more children to attend summer feeding sites in Columbia. Lunches will be served from noon to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday at parks and churches located in high-need neighborhoods.

This is the second year The Food Bank has used summer feeding sites to educate children about healthy eating. A Farm to Table program began at Central Pantry last year to introduce children to new fruits and vegetables and ways to prepare them. “We want the next generation to understand where food comes from and how it is grown and harvested,” Lopez said. “We also want them to better appreciate nutritional foods that encourage healthy lifestyles.”

Good nutrition to welcome heroes

 Tim Rich, director of Welcome Home, and Lindsay Young Lopez, executive director of The Food Bank.

Tim Rich, director of Welcome Home, and Lindsay Young Lopez, executive director of The Food Bank.

Homeless Veterans in need of shelter will now also find a hot meal, thanks to a new partnership that will save Welcome Home, Inc., money on food expenses.

The Food Bank has taken Welcome Home on as a partner agency and will provide food for Veterans living there at no charge to them or the organization. That means Welcome Home will be able to allocate its resources toward other expenses.

“We are thrilled to be part of efforts that help homeless Veterans in their transition back into
society,” says Lindsay Young Lopez, executive director of The Food Bank. “Our heroes in need
deserve nutritious, consistent meals, and we are delighted to be the agency providing that service.”

The partnership becomes effective when Welcome Home moves into its new $8.1 million campus on Rangeline Street in Columbia next month. The facility will provide 29 transitional housing rooms.

This is not the first time The Food Bank has brought attention to Veterans living at or below poverty. The Food Bank has been providing VIP Veteran Packs to Welcome Home since last year. The VIP Veteran Pack Program began in May 2016 as a pilot program in Boone County. With funding from Veterans United, 125 packs of ready-to-eat meals and personal care
items are also distributed monthly at Central Pantry and Patriot Place, an apartment complex for Veterans.

Bringing Welcome Home and The Food Bank together through a formal partnership is a natural fit, says Tim Rich, the executive director of Welcome Home who previously served as The Food Bank’s associate director.

“Agencies and partners working together is what makes Columbia a great community,” he says.
The Veterans’ shelter is The Food Bank’s 137th partner agency.

“When you support The Food Bank, you are also supporting so many wonderful organizations such as Welcome Home,” Lopez said. “We are proud to provide the food needed to feed residents there.”

Boonville graduate raises money, awareness for Buddy Pack Program

 Alec Adair presents a check for $402 for Buddy Packs in Cooper County to The Food Bank Executive Director Lindsay Young Lopez.

Alec Adair presents a check for $402 for Buddy Packs in Cooper County to The Food Bank Executive Director Lindsay Young Lopez.

A Boonville graduate recently raised $402 for the Buddy Pack program there after hosting a youth basketball camp and using the experience for his senior class project.

Alec Adair said he selected hunger as his project topic because he recalled volunteering for the Buddy Pack Program when he was in middle school. After helping assemble them, he had the opportunity to distribute the packs to elementary school children.

 “You don’t think about hunger being a problem in Boonville,” he said. “You don’t think about it until you actually see it.”

This spring, Alec hosted a two-day boys and girls basketball camp, charging a $10 entry fee and asking parents for donations.

Then, he presented the project to his college preparatory English class.

“I presented to the class, but I didn’t ask for donations,” he said. “My teacher did, and $200 flew out of pockets. I was not expecting that. That was awesome, getting it from high school students. It restored my faith in humanity.”

Alec is now headed to Central Methodist University in Fayette, where he is considering a career in education, coaching or communications.

“I like working with people,” he said.

And he also plans to continue philanthropic efforts.

“This was an awesome experience.”

Lewis County Food Pantry to continue in Canton

 The Food Bank Agency Relations Coordinator Barbara Borntrager honors longtime Lewis County Food Pantry director Nina Porter. The pantry will continue next month at a new location in Canton.

The Food Bank Agency Relations Coordinator Barbara Borntrager honors longtime Lewis County Food Pantry director Nina Porter. The pantry will continue next month at a new location in Canton.

The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri will continue to serve those in need in Canton at a new food pantry location on Clark Street.

The Lewis County Food Pantry will distribute food at no charge to the public from 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 5 p.m. Friday, July 7, at 412 Clark Street. Recipients will need to bring something in which to carry groceries, such as boxes, bags or laundry baskets.

The new pantry location and volunteers are being organized by Mandy Gosik, pastor of the Canton Christian Church. She is currently working to form a 501©3 and a pantry board of directors.

The former location at the First Baptist Church held its last distribution this week. On Thursday, members of The Food Bank staff honored former director Nina Porter for her nearly two decades of service.

“We so appreciate Nina’s commitment to the people of Canton,” said Lindsay Young Lopez, executive director of The Food Bank. “And we are very grateful for Pastor Gosik taking the lead on making sure distribution will continue in Canton. We are confident this will be a seamless transition.”

Porter became involved in the pantry after her pastor asked her to help him one day. Eight years later, she became director. The pantry has grown from serving about 45 families to serving more than 260 families.

“I enjoy meeting the people and working with this group,” she said, referring to the volunteers around her. “They’ve been like family.”

Volunteers play key role during Stamp Out Hunger

Sandy Hayton spotted a green bag underneath a mailbox while her husband navigated the roads of northeast Columbia.

“There’s food,” she announced as he pulled over to the side. She exited, grabbed the bag and added it to the growing pile of food donation bags in the couple’s van.

It is a scene that played out again and again across The Food Bank’s 32-county service area during the National Association of Letter Carrier’s 25th annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive. Food and funds are still coming in, and a total amount raised should be available in the coming weeks.

Rich and Sandy Hayton have participated in the drive for the past decade. They originally got involved through the First United Methodist Church in Jefferson City. After retiring from their respective state jobs and moving to Columbia, they opted to continue to participate in the nationwide drive.

“Never miss an opportunity for Christian fellowship,” Rich said, adding that he is always heartened by the generosity of those who give during the event.

Randall and Kirsten Adams have also participated for years. Randall got involved after starting his career with the postal service in 2004. These days, both he and his wife, Kirsten, who also works at the post office, take the day off to be a part of the event.

"Every year it gets better," Randall said. "I know friends who have used the pantry, and we know this is contributing to a good cause. It keeps kids fed."

Volunteers are also critical to the success of the drive, helping collect food along postal routes and sorting non-perishable items at post offices in Columbia, Jefferson City and other communities.

“Stamp Out Hunger is a wonderful day of collecting food and funds to help feed neighbors in need,” said Lindsay Young Lopez, The Food Bank’s executive director. “Volunteers make it an even more rewarding experience. Thank you to everyone who helped out this year.”

Helping families in Miller County

“We begged, we borrowed, we struggled.”

That’s how Sheena provided for her three children for several months when she did not have access to work or a vehicle. The Miller County resident has since secured a job and last month was able to drive to Rocky Mount food pantry to stock up on groceries.

“This will really help me stretch my check,” she said, adding that she is making minimum wage. 

The Rocky Mount Church pantry is up and running in a new building after operating out of the church basement for nearly two decades. The new building, made possible through a grant and numerous
in-kind donations, opened this past summer. Pastor Dan Duckworth and his wife Marilyn are serving about 2,000 people every month.

Another client, Mable, relies on the pantry monthly. Her husband is a retired concrete worker and she raised five children. The couple now lives on Social Security. 

Mable stressed that nothing she picks up from the pantry is wasted.

“We use everything we get here,” she said during her March visit. When asked what she would do without it, she said the couple would "skimp."

Mable said she appreciates those who are in a position to donate to make The Food Bank possible.

“Thank you,” Sheena agreed. “This is a massive help.”

Yager nominated for annual Hero Award

Some heroes wear hairnets. Carl Yager is one of them.

Carl is a regular fixture at The Food Bank, coming in every Tuesday and Thursday morning. A Navy veteran, he has been volunteering since his wife passed away in 2012 and has logged more than 2,000 hours. That works out to 250 work days.

The Food Bank has nominated Carl for the Columbia Daily Tribune’s annual Hero Award, an honor that recognizes volunteers making a difference in the community.

Carl has made a difference both in and outside of Columbia. In The Food Bank’s Volunteer Room, he is known for helping newcomers learn the ropes and for making others feel welcome. In 2013, he ventured outside of the facility and worked with The Food Bank staff to survey clients at pantries and soup kitchens throughout our 32-county service area. He was named The Food Bank’s Volunteer of the Month that September.

“We appreciate Carl’s commitment to The Food Bank,” says Melanie Lake, volunteer programs coordinator. “He has really become a valuable part of our team, not only saving us money in avoided labor costs but also creating a positive environment.”

The Hero Awards are scheduled to be announced on April 24.

Taking cardboard boat building to another level

 Ruben and Corrie Bolton show off Float Your Boat's first-ever solely cardboard boat.

Ruben and Corrie Bolton show off Float Your Boat's first-ever solely cardboard boat.

Ruben Bolton and his daughter Corrie took this year’s cardboard boat challenge to a whole new level.

The duo built a boat entirely of cardboard: No duct tape; no glue; no paint.

Prior to the races at Float Your Boat on Saturday, Bolton admitted he was not sure the boat, titled “Nothing but Cardboard,” would make it across Bass Pro Shops Lake. Not only did it float, it beat the competition in speed.

Nearly 50 cardboard creations set sail for The Food Bank this past weekend, raising money to help feed neighbors in need. The People’s Choice Award brought in more than $8,000, while the total raised during the event is still being calculated.

For Bolton, the challenge was spiritual. The cardboard represented the purity of his beliefs. While extras such as glue and caulk may make a boat seem more equipped for the water, Bolton said he wanted to put his faith solely in the foundation.

Others participating in the sixth annual cardboard boat regatta say boat building was an exercise in teamwork.

“Definitely a lot of team building,” said Lisa Matthiesen with the Centralia High School SMART program. Sixth graders in the afterschool program constructed their boat, learning math, science and engineering along the way. “It was a good learning experience.”

Edward Jones of Columbia participated in Float Your Boat for the first time this year.

“We heard about it several years ago,” said Laura Loomis, captain of her team’s boat. “We decided to do it and jumped in with both feet.”

While Edward Jones’ “Rub a Dub Duckie” boat—complete with balloons and a trail of tiny ducklings—did not win its heat, it did take the “Best Use of a Theme” prize.

Environmental Dynamics International retained its People’s Choice Award title, raising more than $2,000 for The Food Bank.

“Every year, this is our jam,” said Sherri Redmon. “We have bake sales, fundraisers and get employees involved all across the company. They look forward to this.”

EDI also had fun with its boat theme, recreating Lego Batman using cardboard costumes.

Redmon stressed that the fun is secondary to the mission of The Food Bank.

“We float their boat,” she said. “They float our spirits.”

Prize Winners
People’s Choice: Environmental Dynamics International, “Lego Batman”
Best in Show: Floating Elmerinos, “Elmerine” Ghostbusters
Can’t Believe it’s Cardboard: Ruben Bolton, “Nothing But Cardboard”
Best Use of a Theme: Edward Jones, “Rub-a-Dub Duckie”
Ugliest Boat: CAFNR Student Council, “Boats N Heifers”
Titanic Award for Best Sinking: Eat Mo Carp, “Carpe Diem”
Bass Pro Shops Award: Professional Contractors & Engineers, “Corrugated Corsair”
Pirate Class Award: Unilever, Monster Truck Inc.

Short Course Time Winners
1st: Floating Elmerinos, “Elmerine”
2nd: Wild Folk Unschool, “Mystery Canoe
3rd: Mill Creek Cougars, “Cougar Cruisers”

Long Course Time
1st: Professional Contractors & Engineers, “Corrugated Corsair”
2nd: KOPN, “Patty Mae”
3rd: Unileaver, “SS Minnie”

Central Pantry volunteer uses opportunity to learn English

When Victor moved from the Ukraine to Columbia to be closer to his daughter and her family, he knew the first thing he needed to do was learn English.

He also wanted to find a way to learn the language while helping others. That is why he signed up to volunteer at Central Pantry.

“People here help feed people,” he said. “It is very kind. Very, very good.”

Victor knew no English when he started volunteering a year ago, Sean Ross, pantry supervisor, said. Ross paired him up with another volunteer who speaks several languages, including Russian. She translated, helping Victor get to the point where he was able to seek employment. He now works at Kraft-Heinz but still lends a hand at the pantry.

“People here are helpful," he said. "I like that.”

Ross described Victor as a “work horse” who rarely slows down.

“He is willing to do anything—stock shelves, take out the trash,” Ross said. “He’s full-speed ahead 100 percent of the time.”

Mill Creek teams prepare to set sail

 Matt, Mac and Jylon work on a Candyland-themed boat in Megan Kinkade's fourth-grade class at Mill Creek Elementary. The class is one of several from the school participating in this year's Float Your Boat event on April 22.

Matt, Mac and Jylon work on a Candyland-themed boat in Megan Kinkade's fourth-grade class at Mill Creek Elementary. The class is one of several from the school participating in this year's Float Your Boat event on April 22.

John Gerhart’s fourth-grade class at Mill Creek Elementary is taking boat-building to a whole new level.

This year, the students are constructing a house boat.

“All the kids will have their own room to decorate,” Gerhart said. “The kids will do their own measuring and design.”

The boat will debut at the sixth annual Float Your Boat for The Food Bank event on Saturday, April 22.

Gerhart’s class has participated in Float Your boat every year, using the fund-raising event as a project to learn measurements and other mathematical and engineering skills. Last year, his class’s sports car-themed boat took the Bass Pro Shops Award.

But the project has a much larger meaning for the youngsters, he added.

“This is a way for them to reach out and help the community,” Gerhart said.

Students in fellow fourth-grade teacher Megan Kinkade’s class agreed.

“My favorite part is that it raises money for The Food Bank,” said Jylon, a student who, along with Mac and Matt, spent last week working on the bough of their class’s boat. “We are thinking about other people.”

Kincade’s class is creating a floating replica of Candyland, complete with game pieces.

Gerhart this year also recruited more teachers to join in, including Janette Henry and her fifth-grade class.

Several of her students participated last year and that experience has allowed them to step up, she said. “It’s really fun to watch them become leaders.”

Float Your Boat challenges teams to construct boats made solely of cardboard and duct tape. Boats will then compete in races that will begin at 11 a.m. Spectators are encouraged to arrive around 10 a.m.

Food drive doubles as architectural challenge

 The winning team with The Food Bank staff shows off its canned replica of Jesse Hall.

The winning team with The Food Bank staff shows off its canned replica of Jesse Hall.

A tropical beach scene. A life-size replica of Mr. Peanut. A Mario Kart screen capture. An alien from Dr. Who.

In the end, it was a miniature Jesse Hall—made completely of canned food—that took top design honors at the University of Missouri’s Department of Information Technology's second DOIT Food Drive.

The drive challenges IT teams to design and build structures using canned food and other non-perishable items while also collecting food and funds for The Food Bank.

The Mr. Peanut team took the prize for donating the most during the two-week campaign, which raised more than 4,000 food items and more than $2,200. The upstairs team at the department’s Locust Street building won the design prize. Both teams will be able to display their respective traveling trophies for the year.

The Food Bank team members judged the structures—no easy feat considering the talent of the designs.

Sea, We CAN End Hunger, Palms Down!

The so-called “basement” team at the Locust Street building challenged the old saying that money does not grow on trees. The palm tree combined dollars and donated food items to become a centerpiece of a tropical beach scene. It included rolling “waves” of paper-covered cans, a coconut made of peanut butter jars and a boat carrying hope in the form of funds for those in need.

Nuts About the Buddy Pack Program

On the first floor, Mr. Peanut—his famous monocle included—showcased the Buddy Pack program, which provides weekly bags of food and monthly jars of peanut butter to children in need. “I’m nuts about the Buddy Pack Program,” says the structure, made up of canned food mostly wrapped in yellow paper.

Jesse Hall Stands Tall for The Food Bank

The design-winning Jesse Hall replica was detail-oriented with cans of food wrapped in red paper, decorated like bricks, and marble-esque columns that made the structure instantly recognizable. To add to the campus feel, additional cans featuring photos of students and visitors graced areas around the columns.

Mario Can Help, Too

The IT team at the Telecom Building adopted a tech theme, essentially creating what appeared to be a screen shot of Mario Kart on the wall. The scene feature Mario jumping into the air, surrounded by flowers and other obstacles found in the game.

Exterminate Hunger

IT employees stationed at the Life Sciences Center looked to Dr. Who for inspiration, creating a Dalek and cityscape of cans, bottled water, jerky sticks and other non-perishable goods. The structure looked ominous but promised to only exterminate hunger.

“This is a really fun way to collect food and funds for those in need,” said Kimberly Kent, special events coordinator at The Food Bank. “This year’s structures were really amazing. We appreciate the Department of IT at Mizzou for all of the hard work they put into building the structures.”

Disabled Veteran grateful for food in Macon County

After working as a medic for years, Don began and operated his own construction business before an injury changed his life.

Four years ago, he slipped on tile in his bathroom and hit his head, fracturing his skull. He spent months in rehabilitation, losing some of his memories, much of his mobility and his ability to work.

“Today, I can walk using a cane, but other days I can barely crawl,” said Don, an Air Force Veteran. That is why he is thankful for Macon County Ministries Food Pantry. Every month, Don goes to an early distribution open only to severely disabled individuals who live below the poverty line. “I live on a very limited income,” he said. “I would go hungry without this.”

Don says he is able to get by because of nutrition from The Food Bank and his partially subsidized apartment.

Even for those who can work, employment is tough to find in Macon County, said Linda Ellis, who runs the pantry. “Jobs are limited here,” she said. “Our clients, of course,are underprivileged, but everybody here today is living below the poverty line." The Macon County clients are also grateful and gracious, she added. "It’s friends helping friends.”

Macon County Ministries Food Pantry serves disabled clients on the Monday before the third Tuesday of the month, with regular distribution on the third Tuesday. Atypical distribution serves about 350 families, Ellis said.

Alvin,another client, said he and his wife rely on the produce, meat and other products they receive at the pantry every month. “I’m 82 years old and on disability,” he said. “We don’t get much money, so this is nice.”

To those who make The Food Bank possible, Don expressed gratitude. "Thank you," he said. "One hundred percent, thank you."